Because more equal societies work better for everyone

Violence

In brief / Body
In Brief

Homicide rates are lower and children experience less violence in more equal societies.

In detail
In More Detail
The link between inequality and homicide rates has been shown in as many as 40 studies, and the differences are large: there are five-fold differences in murder rates between different countries related to inequality. The most important reason why violence is more common in more unequal societies is that it is often triggered by people feeling looked down, disrespected and loss of face.

In Britain, 35% of people say they are worried about mugging, 33% are worried about being attacked, 24% of women are worried about rape, and 13% are worried that they might be the victim of racial violence. People also fear harassment. Although fear of crime doesn't always reflect actual trends in crime and violence, it is clear that some societies are much more violent than others. In the USA a child is killed by a gun every three hours and in the UK over a million violent crimes were recorded in 2005-2006.

The link between inequality and homicide rates has been shown in as many as 40 studies, and the differences are large: there are five-fold differences in murder rates between different countries related to inequality. The most important reason why violence is more common in more unequal societies is that it is often triggered by people feeling looked down, disrespected and loss of face.

We have also found that inequality is related to the Global Peace Index and to children's experiences of violence.

More Information
More Information

Wilkinson R. Why is violence more common where inequality is greater? Annals of theNew York Academy of Sciences 2004;1036:1-12.

Hsieh C-C, Pugh MD. Poverty, income inequality, and violent crime: A meta-analysis of recent aggregate data studies. Criminal Justice Review 1993;18:182-202.

Gilligan J. Preventing violence. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2001.

Fajnzylber P, Lederman D, Loayza N. Inequality and violent crime. The Journal of Law and Economics 2002; 45 (1): 1-40.

Daly M, Wilson M, Vasdev S. Income inequality and homicide rates in Canada and the United States. Canadian Journal of Criminology 2001; 43: 219-36.

Kelly M. Inequality and Crime. The Review of Economics and Statistics 2000; 82( 4); 530-539.

Wilkinson RG, Pickett KE. The Spirit Level. Penguin. 2009. Buy the book from Amazon.